Playground Physics is a free app created by the New York Hall of Science that highlights physics concepts in everyday life. It explains the properties of motion, force, and energy behind the user's own movements. Users can record a person or object moving, trace where it is on the screen, and the app will then calculate the math behind the performance. The app has some fun additional features like stickers to express what's interesting about a performance, slow motion effects, and highlighting.
Playground Physics provides features for both students and teachers, making it easy to use in the classroom. The app prompts students to add necessary information only when it is needed for a physics calculation so users don’t have to add all the information upfront. It also provides helpful hints in an unobtrusive way for students to learn how to adjust their videos. Playground Physics comes with curriculum activities for teachers that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, making them easy to use in middle and high school lessons.
The app requires students to have some space to move and play (which may be difficult in urban environments with limited space), but it gets students moving, and they may be more likely to get excited about what they are learning. Additionally, the option of using an object to track motion may be helpful for students with physical disabilities to use the app.
Using Playground Physics requires students to work in groups around devices which could be limiting for classes depending on their access to technology. The app doesn’t have a means of sorting or labeling students' performances for teachers to assess or for students to return to again. Playground Physics requires students to have enough physical space to experiment with motion, which may be a limitation for classroom use.
Playground Physics is a fun app that allows students to experiment with Newton’s laws of motion while connecting learning activities to curriculum content. Instead of just explaining the physics behind everyday movement, the app makes the science visible through overlaying displays that explain motion, force, and energy in every movement. The curriculum guides for the app can help educators bring Newton’s laws of motion to life when incorporating Playground Physics in their classrooms.Image via Unsplash